Rising congestion: Another reason to consider hybrids

Congestion is increasing across the US and in large cities such as Los Angeles, rush hour commutes have increased as much as 71 percent. Hybrid cars might not be able to save your time, but they can save a lot of fuel normally wasted during congested idling.

Congestion kills fuel economy, but not for most hybrids.

Batteries love congestion

Congestion is on the rise, and in the largest US cities, congestion has increased commuting times as much as 71 percent during the afternoon rush hour. Not only does this waste lots of time, but tremendous amounts of gasoline.

While hybrids can't help with the lost time, they can help save that fuel, so at least you're not losing money and time.

According to INRIX, rush hour traffic in Los Angeles has increased the average afternoon commute time by 71 percent. San Francisco increased 63 percent. NY and Chicago increased 47 and 41 percent respectively. Even worse, the problem is expected to increase significantly in the next few years because of high unemployment rates.

So, what can you do about it?

Public transportation might work for some. Changing schedules might work for others. But if you have no choice but to crawl through your commute, hybrid cars and plug-in vehicles could offer some relief if you're in the market for a new ride.

While the EPA accounts for some congestion in its city fuel economy ratings, it's very light congestion. As a result, studies have demonstrated that in the kinds of congestion experienced in the the nation's largest cities, conventional gasoline cars achieve far under the EPA's fuel economy estimates. Hybrid cars, on the other hand, excel in such conditions – even blowing away the EPA's numbers.

And with unleaded gasoline prices already at $4.00 in many major cities, can you afford to waste obscene amounts of time and gas – money – idling in traffic?

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